Meghan Collins

Dayan Qigong: A key element for maintaining health and well-being

by Meghan Collins

Casting about for an exercise program that would be good for a woman in her eighties, I came to the Wen Wu School two years ago on the recommendation of some friends. Now I am about to start my 4th session of the 1st Set Dayan Qigong Form.  I did not arrive at the school in complete state of disrepair, however. In my young adulthood, I was student of ballet and modern dance, and later practiced yoga for a number of years. Until a couple of years ago, I did international folk dancing as well. But I began to fear that yoga and folk dancing were putting me at a risk for injury because of my poor balance and tempermental knees.

All along in my life, I have been a free-lance writer. Besides magazine journalism, I have had two children's books published, one which won a Commonwealth Club Award the year it came out. I've written a couple of long-running newspaper columns, one on gardening and one  interviewing people with interesting jobs. Recently as a result of a wonderful poetry workshop, I have begun to write some poems.

Always a late bloomer, I took up the folk harp (also called the lever or Celtic harp), in my sixties, as an accompaniment to the story-telling visits I was doing at public schools and senior residency facilities. These days, playing the harp and penny whistle are my most precious daily occupations. To those who may dream of learning a musical instrument someday as an adult, I encourage you to know that it can be done. But only if you absolutely commit time to practice every day. Few people seem to be able to do that. I also believe that finding a good teacher is essential.

Meghan Collins at Wen Wu SchoolReturning to the topic of qigong, I have been continually delighted and surprised by what it has opened up for me. Each time I progress through learning the Form, I discover new subtleties I hadn't noticed before. I came to the school with significant concerns about balance projects, that I am pleased to observe have been improving slowly.  I enjoy the dance-like quality of the Wild Goose Qigong movements, and feel that in each session I learn to move through the Form with a greater and greater sense of fluidity.

Finally, I believe the chief benefit of this practice can be summed up on two levels. It engages me in not only in a very effective physical training, it also provides a doorway to a new way of life. I am sure that every student notices, as I do, the mental balance and psychological composure that develops from continued practice. Through our teachers, I have been introduced to Chinese Traditional Medicine (TCM) and the principles of healthy eating. The Taoist spiritual underpinnings of qigong practices mesh so well with my 35 years of practice in Zen Buddhist meditation traditions.  I also love the annual Wen Wu School summer retreats, which are such a wonderful example of generosity, companionship, and joyful concentrated practice.

As anyone can see from reading this, I have done many things in my long life. Some I have had to let go of, and some I have chosen to maintain. Qigong is one of the activities that I plan to keep up with, because I believe it is one of the key elements in maintaining health and well-being in my old age.


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